We’ve all experienced rising health care costs over the past few years. Due to these costs and changes in coverage due to recent legislation, it is more important than ever to make the most of your doctor’s appointment.

Avoid the frustration of not getting your questions answered and feeling rushed during your appointment by being prepared. Have the information your doctor needs written clearly so you can answer questions quickly and concisely. Don’t let the appointment end until you’ve gotten your questions answered either. You are paying for their time, get what you need from it!

In order to make the most of your doctor’s appointment we will cover how best to prepare, what to do during the appointment, and how to track what you learned after in the sections below.

How to Prepare for Your Doctor’s Appointment:

  • If you are a new patient or your doctor’s office has forms you need to fill out before starting, download or get a copy before arriving at the appointment and have them filled out when you arrive.
  • Write down your questions ahead of time. Avoid multiple appointments by being prepared.
  • Keep a log of any relevant info leading up to the appointment.
    • Record information such as: how well you’ve been sleeping, exercise, weight fluctuations, aches, headaches, and a record of any additional symptoms.
  • Keep a list of all medications and supplements
    • Include the name, brand (if applicable), and dosage on your list.
    • Write down what each one is used for in your notes.
    • Give a list of the medications and supplements to your health care provider at each appointment. These items can and do change over time. Even if your doctor has a current list they often can’t easily access the information and need reminding. The medications and supplements you take are very important. Some might not go well together or could be causing some of the issues you are having. If your doctor has the complete picture of what you take they can better help you.
    • Take a photo of each prescription and supplement label as well.
    • Keep the photos in Evernote, reference these photos and your list if you forget medications at home while traveling and need replacements.

What To Do During The Appointment:

  • Record your vital information.
    • Your doctor’s aide usually will take your blood pressure, heart rate and weight at each visit. Ask for the information, unless you ask they usually won’t tell you.
  • Be sure to get answers for each and every question on your list.
    • Ask follow up questions if you need more clarification.
  • Take notes during the appointment.
    • Consider recording the audio from your doctor’s appointment in Evernote as well as taking written notes.
  • Ask for any prescription refills, take a photocopy of the prescription so you have the information. This can be very handy if you doctor’s office doesn’t get your prescription phoned it or if you need a refill when you are away from home.
  • Ask for a copy of any lab test results or medical records covered during the doctor’s appointment.

After Your Doctor’s Appointment, Make The Most Of It:

  • Keep a list of all your doctor’s appointments by year so you can see patterns and identify significant changes over time.
  • Scan any written notes into your Evernote account for future reference.
  • Scan lab results or documentation you received from your doctor.
    • Past lab results can be very handy when working with a new doctor or just refreshing your doctor’s mind about patterns you see in your medical history.
  • Create goals for any new directions your doctor gave you.
    • Use a mobile application like Streaks to help you create new habits such as drinking more water, taking a new medication, or exercising as prescribed.

How will your next doctor’s visit be when you come prepared to make the most of it? Each person needs to become their own best health advocate. When you are armed with information and prepare for your medical visits you can become that advocate for yourself.

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Featured photo credit: Doctor with a stethoscope in the hands behind the back via Shutterstock

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